An online undercover operation in Lewis County by the Washington State Patrol’s Missing Exploited Children Task Force, in collaboration with several local and federal partners, culminated this week in the arrest of 12 people on attempted rape of a child charges.
Undercover detectives posing online as 13-year-olds and, in one case, a woman with 10-year-old and 12-year-old daughters, made profiles and posted advertisements on several websites late last week with the goal of “seeking individuals looking for sexual intercourse with minors in Lewis County,” according to court documents.
“The online world’s ability to connect us all has proven to be invaluable over these past few years, yet, it also provides an avenue for criminals to reach into our homes, and more worrisome, our children, in ways we previously never imagined,” said State Patrol Chief John Batiste in a prepared statement. “This horrific reality only enhances the need for these kinds of proactive investigations by law enforcement to combat these terrible crimes. There is nothing more important than safeguarding and protecting our community’s most innocent and vulnerable: our children.”
As part of the operation, dubbed “Net Nanny,” detectives communicated undercover with subjects who responded to the fake profiles, set up times and places to meet for sex, asked the respondents to bring specific items such as condoms or lube, and arrested them when they showed up to the designated meeting spot.
“The collaborative effort involving more than 60 dedicated law enforcement officers, agents and staff led to the success of this operation,” the State Patrol stated in a news release.
In addition to the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations, partners included the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office, the state Department of Corrections and the police departments for the cities of Chehalis, Longview, Tacoma, Othello and Spokane.
“We were proud to participate with the Washington State Patrol’s Missing Exploited Children Task Force and the other public safety partners in this very important operation focused on keeping children safe from those who prey on them in our communities,” said Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza in an official statement. “Dedicated partnerships are what make operations such as these a success!”
Nine of the arrested subjects were charged in Lewis County Superior Court on Monday and an additional three were charged on Tuesday.
“It is unfortunate that there are some that are actively preying on children. However, it is reassuring to know that so many agencies are willing to respond to help hold those people accountable,” said Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer in an official statement. “We are thankful for the federal and state agencies that conducted this operation and the support of multiple local agencies. Coordination of law enforcement partners is vital to help ensure the safety of the people of Lewis County.”
Six of the arrested subjects — Michael A. Gillette, 31, of Chehalis; Justin Daniel Hinchcliffe, 43, of Olympia; Wayne Allen Rigby, 72, of Shelton; Leonardo Cirilo Tranquilino, 31, of Centralia; Adislao Cirilo Hernandez, 24, of Centralia; and Antonio Tomas Nolasco, 36, of Shelton — were separately charged with one count each of second-degree attempted rape of a child, communication with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly communicating and then meeting with an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old female between Nov. 10 and Nov. 14.
Gillette was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 11:05 p.m. on Nov. 12 and is accused of breaking his phone immediately prior to his arrest. His bail was set at $100,000 on Monday. When asked by a judge to argue for bail lower than the $150,000 requested by Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Meyer, Gillette pointed out his lack of criminal history and said “I don’t believe that I’m a danger to anyone.”
When Hinchliffe was arrested on Nov. 13, he reportedly told officers he used to be a high school teacher and was currently a middle school teacher, adding, “he never intended to have sex with the 13-year-old female and was just trying to save her but did not call police to tell them,” according to court documents. He informed the court on Monday that he intended to resign his teaching position to take care of this case.
His bail was set at $75,000.
Rigby was booked into the Lewis County Jail at approximately 10:20 a.m. on Nov. 14. “The conversation that he had with the undercover officer was very explicit,” Meyer said at Rigby’s hearing on Monday. Rigby’s bail was set at $50,000.
Cirilo Tranquilino and Cirilo Hernandez were both booked into the Lewis County Jail after midnight on Nov. 13 after officers identified them in the same vehicle at a meetup spot with the undercover detective. Bail was set at $50,000 each on Monday.
Nolasco was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 14 and had his preliminary hearing in Lewis County Superior Court on Tuesday. A judge granted his request to have contact with his own biological children, under the supervision of their mother, while the case is ongoing.
Bail was set at $50,000.
Four of those arrested — Douglas Ray Clark, 45, of Rochester; Zachery Earl Case, 21, of Belfair; Tyler David Clark, 23 of Chehalis; and Mario Alberto Fernandez, 33, of Napavine — were separately charged with one count each of second-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes, for allegedly communicating and then meeting with undercover officers posing as 13-year-olds between Nov. 12 and Nov. 13.
Douglas Clark, Case and Tyler Clark allegedly communicated with a detective posing as a 13-year-old female on a social media site. Douglas Clark allegedly told the officer “it probably was” a problem that she was 13 years old but he allegedly agreed to pick her up from her house when she snuck out, according to court documents. A judge denied his request for visitation with his 9-year-old child. Bail was set at $50,000, which he had posted as of Tuesday morning.
Tyler Clark allegedly agreed to meet the undercover officer at a nearby park and walked to the meetup location. When arrested, he told officers “he thought he was meeting with an adult,” according to court documents. Bail was set at $50,000, which he had posted as of Tuesday morning.
Case reportedly had “a very explicit conversation” with the undercover officer prior to the meeting, according to Meyer. Judge James Lawler declined Case’s request for contact with two minor relatives, an infant and a 17-year-old. “I’m not making an exception at home on this one,” he said Monday. Bail was set at $50,000.
Fernandez is accused of communicating with a detective posing as a 13-year-old male on a dating app. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail at approximately 12:40 a.m. on Nov. 15.
His bail was set at $50,000 on Tuesday.
The two remaining subjects, Gerry Gene Greatreaks, 50, of Vancouver, and Robert Earl Morrison, 65, of Kelso, were separately charged with one count each of first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child for allegedly communicating with an undercover detective posing as the guardian of a 10-year-old female and a 12-year-old female and arranging to meet the two children for sex.
Greatreaks was booked into the Lewis County Jail just after 10:35 p.m. on Nov. 12.
“This is an unusual set of circumstances, to say the least,” said Meyer of Greatreaks’ case, adding that Greatreaks allegedly drove from Vancouver to Chehalis for the meeting. Bail was set at $100,000 on Monday.
Morrison, who was booked into the Lewis County Jail just after 8:50 p.m. on Nov. 14, allegedly met the undercover detective at a bar in Chehalis, where he allegedly spoke explicitly about having sex with the children. He was later arrested in a parking lot across the street from an address provided by the undercover detective. When questioned by officers, Morrsion allegedly “admitted to going to the (undercover detective’s) house for the purpose of sexual contact with the minor children but was not going to follow through with it,” according to court documents.
Bail was set at $100,000 on Tuesday.
Aside from Cirilo Tranquilino, who has a pending DUI matter out of Thurston County, and Morrison, who has a few prior DUIs, none of the defendants have prior criminal history.
Conditions of release for all 12 defendants include provisions prohibiting them from contacting minors or going anywhere minors are known to congregate.
Arraignment hearings for Gillette, Rigby, Douglas Clark, Case, Greatreaks, Morrison and Fernandez are scheduled for Nov. 17, as all opted to have attorneys appointed by the court.
Arraignments for Hinchcliffe, Cirilo Tranquilino, Cirilo Hernandez, Tyler Clark and Nolasco are scheduled for Nov. 23 to give those defendants time to retain counsel.